Drugs, sex and groupies abound in The Bad Guys Won! by Jeff Pearlman, a reporter for Newsday. (Currently, Pearlman writes for ESPN.com.) Only the author isn't a rock critic chronicling the wild escapades of a band; he's describing the very successful 1986 season when the New York Mets won the World Series.
As remarkable as the team's performance on the field, the players' escapades outside the stadium are perhaps more memorable, in a far less flattering way. Pearlman, an unabashed Mets fan, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the team, including an insightful portrait of Frank Cashen, the general manager at the time. Pearlman discusses the trades, the players' abilities and unforgettable games.
But much of the book is about the difficulties and the unprofessional behavior of many of the players. For example, on one rowdy flight back to New York, United Airlines billed the team an additional $7,500 for damage resulting from food fights and other unruly antics and said the team couldn't fly the airline again. Cashen was upset, but the manager, Davey Johnson, laughed as he tore up the bill in front of the team.
The drug use that would become public later was not addressed at the time, though it was obvious to reporters. When asked whether Dwight Gooden was healthy, despite several minor car accidents, Johnson had nothing to say: "As long as Dwight Gooden was smiling and in good physical shape, Johnson required no knowledge about the pitcher's private time. Johnson was a manager, not a babysitter."
Pearlman's book isn't simple nostalgia-some of the players have virtually disappeared from the public eye-and much of the wild off-field behavior is still part of the game today. Baseball aficionados, especially Mets fans, will enjoy this affectionate but critical look at this exciting season.
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